Individuals with tetraplegia have a challenging life due to a lack of independence and autonomy. Assistive robots have the potential to assist with the activities of daily living and thus improve the quality of life. However, an efficient and reliable control interface for severely disabled individuals is still missing. An intraoral tongue-computer interface (ITCI) for people with tetraplegia has previously been introduced and tested for controlling a robotic manipulator in a study deploying discrete tongue robot mapping. To improve the efficiency of the interface, the current study proposed the use of virtual buttons based on the ITCI and evaluated them in combination with a joystick-like control implementation, enabling continuous control commands. Twelve able-bodied volunteers participated in a three-day experiment. They controlled an assistive robotic manipulator through the tongue to perform two tasks: Pouring water in a cup (PW) and picking up a roll of tape (PUT). Four different tongue-robot mapping methods were compared. The results showed that using continuous commands reduced the task completion time by 16% and the number of commands of the PUT test by 20% compared with discrete commands. The highest success rate for completing the tasks was 77.8% for the PUT test and 100% for the PW test, both achieved by the control methods with continuous commands. Thus, the study demonstrated that incorporating continuous commands can improve the performance of the ITCI system for controlling robotic manipulators.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9340323
JournalI E E E Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)2552-2562
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Gold
  • Layout
  • Manipulators
  • Robots
  • Sensors
  • Task analysis
  • Tongue
  • Tongue-computer interface
  • assistive devices
  • disabled individuals
  • human-robot interaction
  • rehabilitation robotics
  • robot control
  • tetraplegia


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